On Saturday, four graduates from our Manchester programme joined some of the staff from Mercedes Benz HQ on a charity walk to the summit of Mount Snowdon. At 1085m, this rugged peak is the tallest in England and Wales. But first, we had a bigger challenge in front of us…. how to get everyone up in time to meet our driver outside DePaul’s Porter Street hostel at 6am. Brandon is an early riser anyway, so no worries there, but Cain, Martin and Adam can sleep through anything. So it was a pleasant surprise when all three answered their wake-up calls at 5am. Adam was first to be picked up, followed by Cain and Brandon. We then arrived at Martin’s and saw a ghostly figure floating down the steps, wearing Martin’s clothes. This ghost was in fact Martin, who had stayed up all night to make sure he didn’t sleep through his alarm call! Still unable to believe our success, we then arrived at Porter Street a full 3 minutes EARLY. Mercedes Benz had provided a luxury chauffeur driven people carrier to take us to Wales and back. Brandon had promised he was going to go back to sleep as soon as we set off, instead he stayed awake and the banter started early. Meanwhile, as it was now 6am, Cain got stuck into the packed lunches I had made for him (and everyone else). In fact, in true Cain style, if you observed him at any point during the entire trip he was either eating or talking…. quite often both at the same time.
After stopping to get much needed caffeine for everyone, the talk turned to the challenge ahead, and particularly the weather. It was throwing it down. I’m well known for being a fair-weather runner and the thought of Snowdon in horizontal rain was weighing on my mind. I had reminded everyone to bring some dry clothes for the journey home so asked if they had remembered, “No George”, they replied in unison (and neither had I).
After a quick stop to collect Patrik, from Laureus Sports for Good, who had stayed the night in Colwyn Bay, we soon arrived at the foot of a very wet, windy and wild looking Snowdon. This didn’t dampen the spirits of our hosts from Mercedes who joined us in the carpark. They were the epitome of cheerful and after introductions and last-minute clothing checks, we started up the mountain. Anyone who knows the Llanberis path up Snowdon will know it starts with a VERY steep tarmac section. Brandon did not know this and within 300 metres, the banter had been swapped for “my legs are numb”, “can I go back to the van?”, “can I just wait for you here?”. However, once he got on the mountain proper and his legs warmed up, he started to enjoy himself, even laughing at the pouring rain. Cain and Adam had stormed away at the front with some of the Mercedes guys whilst Martin had dropped back to give encouragement to one of their team who was struggling a bit. He stayed with her for the entire walk, displaying all the teamwork skills that have made him such a wonderful asset to our running sessions.
As we got higher, the rain and wind grew in intensity and it was a relief to finally reach the summit and the warmth of the visitor centre. Here we regrouped with everyone, including Cain – who was still busy eating. Almost as soon as we got warm, it was time to head down again. Thankfully, going down takes a lot less effort so everyone was in high spirits, even more so when we finally dropped out from the clouds and the weather improved. There was even a sighting of the sun, briefly. We hit the steep tarmac again and this time there were no complaints from Brandon who had thoroughly enjoyed the challenge. Back to the carpark and a warm welcome from John the driver. Cain was still working his way through everyone’s now soggy butties but was keen to accept a generous offer of Haribo’s and Mars bars from the Mercedes Benz guys. Once the goodbyes had been said, it was a relief to jump in the van and head home with the heating on full, with the satisfaction of another challenge ticked off for our intrepid runners. They all had a fantastic time, many thanks to Mercedes Benz UK and Laureus Sports for Good.